This year’s Road Safety Monitor Survey has revealed that drivers in Northern Ireland are still driving despite drinking alcohol. With up to 25% of the driving population of Northern Ireland admitting to drink driving, Road Safety Minister Alex Attwood is anxious to ensure young drivers are not sucked in to the same bad habits.
The Minister is currently drawing up a bill that will effectively introduce a zero alcohol limit for new drivers who will have to stick to the guidelines for two years. The Minister made the announcement after the survey revealed that almost three quarters (72%) of respondents are opposed to drinking and driving, yet a quarter of them will happily get behind the wheel after having had just one drink. Speeding, drink driving and careless driving are the three main reasons that motor insurance companies are paying out huge amounts of money each year to compensate the victims of rogue drivers.
Alex Attwood said: “These figures concern me. At present a quarter of drivers are taking a risk by driving after having one drink. Even small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so thinking that you can have one drink and drive safely isn’t realistic. There has been a lot of work done over a number of years to make drink driving unacceptable and now we need a further behaviour change. I have just finished consulting on a draft Bill that will introduce lower drink drive limits and a new graduated penalty regime. It also includes new powers for roadside check-points where all drivers could be asked to take a breath test, sending a strong message that testing will become more likely.”
Car drivers aged under 25 account for only 11% of full driving licences in Northern Ireland, however, this age group is responsible for 45% of all road accidents where a driver was at fault. A large majority (87%) of all respondents surveyed agreed that the police should be able to stop people at random and breathalyse them for driving under the influence of alcohol. This figure is up 2% on the last survey done in 2010.